NIHR: Eye disease patients have more opportunity than ever to take part in NHS research studies

21 November 2018
Source: NIHR

National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Logo• 76 per cent of hospitals in England now offer patients the opportunity to take part in eye disease studies
• 15,500 patients per year offered innovative treatments for diseases such as age-related macular degeneration
• Ophthalmology community ‘punching above its weight’ in world of research

A new paper published today highlights how some 76 per cent of hospitals in England now offer patients the opportunity to take part in studies of eye disease to improve research and innovation.

‘Ophthalmology research in the UK’s National Health Service: the structure and performance of the NIHR’s Ophthalmology research portfolio’ published in Eye, the scientific journal of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, shines a light on the work done by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to promote and foster a new wave of ophthalmic research.
The paper, authored by the NIHR Ophthalmology Specialty Group, also points to the need for a long term strategy and greater financial support in the field of eye health.

Eye disease research only receives one per cent of the £2billion research spend in the UK but has delivered a growth in the number of eye and vision loss studies in the NHS’s research portfolio. Both non-commercial and commercial investment has meant that an average of 15,500 patients per year are now being offered innovative treatments for the common but life-changing diseases of glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Almost 2 million people live with sight loss in the UK and it costs the UK economy some £28billion per year. Ophthalmology remains the single busiest out-patient specialty in hospitals in the UK, with a million out-patient visits for glaucoma per year.

Professor Rupert Bourne, lead author and the national specialty lead for ophthalmology at the National Institute for Health Research, said:

“Over the last eight years, the Ophthalmology community has been instrumental in putting eye research in the UK on the map, particularly in novel research areas such as gene therapies, drug delivery systems, robotic surgery and artificial intelligence. Many of these studies are international in scope and this report showcases the collaborative nature of eye research in the NHS.”

Read the full report on the NIHR website

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